It was minus 20 degrees Celsius when 2.000 women gathered at the main square of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, to voice their distress about the terrible smog in the city caused by three large power plants. Soon after, the women were invited to speak about the problem of air pollution with the minister of environment.
Although the human rights to water, food and a healthy environment have been incorporated in international legal instruments, in many countries these rights are violated on a massive scale. Women suffer disproportionally, because it is mostly still their role to feed the family and fetch water, but also because they lack decision-making power over the use of natural resources.
Sometimes things must go terribly wrong before big players start to move. In March 2016, Honduran activist Berta Cáceres was murdered because of her leading role in the protests against the Agua Zarca hydro dam, co-financed by the Dutch FMO. One and a half year later, FMO changed their policies to prevent such events in the future.
This week, the African Development Bank (AfDB) holds its 2018 Annual Meetings. A large group of African civil society organisations calls on the bank to ensure social and environmental protection, to involve civil society, to pay attention to gender issues and to make sustainable choices in their energy access ambitions.
On Friday, the long awaited policy note by Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag was published. The note was the outcome of a process of consultation, scientific analysis and much discussion within and outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We searched for the spirit underlying it: What trends does this minister consolidate and deepen? What is new? Are those new aspects a superficial change of discourse or a genuine break with the past? On what issues is the paper silent and what do those silences tell us?
On Friday, the long awaited policy note by Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag was published. We searched for the spirit underlying it: What trends does this minister consolidate and deepen? What is new? On what issues is the paper silent and what do those silences tell us? Both ENDS' director Danielle Hirsch published her reflection on the policy note on the website of Vice Versa (in Dutch).
Today, three representatives of the Honduran indigenous people's organisation COPINH, together with the family of environmental activist Berta Cáceres, who was murdered in March 2016, announced that they are preparing to press charges against the Dutch development bank FMO. COPINH accuses the FMO of complicity in human rights violations in connection with the controversial Agua Zarca hydroelectric project.
Both ENDS and Forest Peoples Program have formally requested the European Parliament, Commission and Council and the EU Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, to consult indigenous and local communities impacted by EU trade in palm oil and other agricultural commodities in formal EU policy deliberations on these topics. Why did we decide to do so and what's it all about? Our colleague Michael Rice sheds some light on the matter.
New research by Both ENDS, Fossielvrij NL and urgewald shows that, in 2017, pension fund ABP invested 500 million euros more in coal, oil and gas than in the previous year – a total of 10.9 billion euros. These investments in fossil fuels not only stand in sharp contrast to ABP's claim that it has achieved substantial successes in its climate policy, but are also in flagrant violation of the Paris climate agreement. Unlike international forerunners among pension funds, ABP continues unabated to invest in the fossil energy sector.